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What is the importance of Chapter 5 in Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'?

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Introduction

What is the importance of Chapter 5 in Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'? Frankenstein is a gothic style novel written in 1816 by Mary Shelley. It was written after a visit to Lord Byron's residence whereby she was challenged to write a ghost story. Shortly after this Shelley had a dream in which a 'hideous corpse' came to her bedside. She wished her reader to feel the same fear with which she had beheld this creature, and so became 'Frankenstein'! The novel is written as a narrative, but consists of many layers. The story is told by Robert Walton, who has written in a letter to his sister what Victor Frankenstein has relayed to him. Although this is the actual narrative, the reader feels as though it is actually Victor Frankenstein who is telling the story. Victor Frankenstein is a loved son to a widowed father and a brother to Elizabeth, an adopted sister who he has pledged to marry. Frankenstein has a need for medical knowledge following the death of his mother which, as a doctor, not even his father could prevent. He is currently after two years at university on the brink of discovering how to create life, a highly controversial issue at the time in which the novel was written. The Romantic period was one of social unrest where the role of religion was considered highly important and the development in science phenomenal yet feared. The question 'are we overstepping the boundaries set by God?' ...read more.

Middle

As Frankenstein 'escaped and rushed downstairs' the tension drops once more as he is no longer in the presence of the monster. However, the reader is anxious to know what the monster is doing whilst Frankenstein is away. We as a reader feel very much for Frankenstein as he has isolated himself for so long, creating something he wishes he had not, that he now has no one to turn to. He is alone. Until we find Henry Clerval, then once again, hopes rise and there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Frankenstein seems equally as pleased, 'Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval'. Frankenstein describes it as 'calm, serene joy' making the reader feel instantly at ease. Frankenstein takes Clerval back to his apartment. The reader is as nervous as Frankenstein, concerned and anxious about what is to be found there. Is the monster still there? What horrors are awaiting him? The tension rises and rises until Frankenstein discovers the monster has fled. 'I could hardly believe that so great a good fortune could have befallen me' makes us very happy for him, and we sympathise with Frankenstein, as he seems to have had a run of bad luck. Our sympathy increase as we learn of how ill he is. Coincidence it may be, but as Frankenstein starts to get better, 'the fallen leaves had disappeared and the young buds were shooting forth from the trees'. ...read more.

Conclusion

He talks of how he was rejected by society because of his appearance and how he became isolated. Isolation is the theme that links both Frankenstein and the monster, but in different ways. Frankenstein chooses to be isolated because what he is doing would not be accepted by society, however the monster was forced into it from birth, giving him no faith in the human race at all. Chapter five is really the turning point of the book, and massively important. It shows a completely different side to Victor Frankenstein. The monster, created in this chapter, is made out to be horrible and wretched due to the way he looks. The reader later on feels guilty for jumping to the wrong conclusions about the monster, appearance is not everything. It is after this chapter that we start to turn against Frankenstein and empathise with the monster instead. Shelly achieves an absolutely fantastic gothic novel. Although scary now, it would have had a different impact on the reader at the time that it was written. Hardly any novels of this kind had dared to be written before, so for a reader at that time, the novel would have seemed particularly scary. Presently there have been so many films and books produced along the same theme as 'Frankenstein' that the effect of this genre has been dulled. Also today, there are not the same pressures of religion; people are encouraged to think more freely and science has progressed to a stage where the only questions being asked are about things irrelevant to daily life. Emma Lerway English Coursework 2003 ...read more.

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